Purgatory Part 3: Scriptural Analogies for Understanding Purgatory

Hello again! This is part three of our six part series on Purgatory. In part one we debunked Protestant arguments against Purgatory and in part two we talked about the three points the Catechism makes about it. You can find links to both of those below:

  1. Historical Evidence for Purgatory
  2. What the Catechism Says About Purgatory
  3. Scriptural Analogies for Understanding Purgatory
  4. What Our Holy Experts Say About Purgatory
  5. The Purgatory Museum

Now that we have that out of the way, let us begin!

Calling all visual learners of the world. If you are like me you love a good analogy to help you understand the intangible. I want to share with you a beautiful analogy from the Bible that helps us better understand what Purgatory does for a soul. As I mentioned in Part 1, many people describe Purgatory as either a “hot bath”, or a “waiting room”, but these descriptions are way too simplistic. The best comparison I found comes straight from the bible. It compares the purification process of Purgatory to the silversmith’s refining fire. This analogy is referenced in both the Old and the New Testaments [Malachi 3:2-3 and 1 Corinthians 3:13-15] (Armstrong).

“But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord.” Malachi 3:2-3 (RSVCE)

“Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.Corinthians 3:13-15 (RSVCE)

The quotes above give us examples of purification in fire so as to be worthy and clean before the Lord. As we can see, in this analogy God is a silversmith and our imperfect souls are impure silver (or gold but we’re sticking with silver). Let’s look at it this way, to acquire the ideal result when working with silver, a silversmith must obtain the purest silver, free of dirt and other metals combined with it. He cannot use the precious metal until the impurities of the silver are burned away. The metalworker will continue the purification process until the silver is so pure he can see his own reflection in the metal.

In the same way that a silversmith burns away all the impurities of the metal, God allows the impurities of our souls to be literally burned away and purified in the fire of God’s love. When the soul is completely purified it will reflect total perfection, or what we know to be God himself. After both the soul and the silver are free of all impurities, they will be able to do what they were created for. In our case, that means to be in Heaven with God (Adorno, CCC, Holy Bible, Staples).

To Be Continued… Part 4 Coming Soon…

Did this analogy help you understand what Purgatory is and does? Do you have some questions you want answered still? Share what you think in the comments below.



Total List of Sources


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